Elizabeth Clark – Memoirs By Ina Wireman
I was 9 or 10 years old and it was the early 1960′s, we lived near a very busy downtown Detroit, often called the Motor City, which would later be referred to as Motown. My sister Faye always watched Dick Clark and American Bandstand and Rock and Roll was still brand new!! I loved listing to Frankie Vallee and the four seasons the best at the time LOL.
Mack Street looking East from Van Dyke
Mom called my brother ,sister and I into the house and told us to get cleaned up, we had to go pick up granny because they were letting her out of prison, I said “What granny?” “your mom and dads mom are dead”, she said it was her grandmother our great grand mother, up until that point she was never spoke of , as I look back I must have fell asleep in the car, because I first remember her walking up the steps of the porch, Aunt Virginia was there to greet her too we were all excited that we had a grandparent.
As I reread that letter she wrote to mom. I think maybe they all thought she died in prison, Maybe mom read about her in the news paper and it prompted her to write to Grandma.
After she was out of prison she was living near Downtown Detroit at the time (not to far from Belle Isle) She lived in an apartment near Van Dyke and Mack Ave until her death , This is just a few blocks from where we were living. I remember Aunt Virginia went in and retrieved her things after she passed away. She only lived for there for not even a year before she passed.
Her funeral was at St. Cathrine church on Semiole street in Detroit, which today is called
the St. Augustine and St. Monica Roman Catholic Church. The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
This is the same church where we attended school as children. The School was located behind the church and the nuns lived behind there as well.
Mack was about a block or two up Van Dyke, we lived on Canfield and the main streets were Van Dyke, at one end and East Grand Blvd at the other.
Canfield Street Looking West from Van Dyke
I was at the funeral , but I don’t remember us going to a grave yard, we just left the church, so she has to be buried in a pauper grave. I’m sure the state buried her. Her casket was pine with some kind of Blue Purple felt over it.
That church is only a few blocks from where she lived, it was with in walking distance, I was baptized there made my first communion there and my confirmation, and also went to the school there.
I’m assuming she was at the Detroit Receiving hospital when she died, most people went to that hospital if they were poor. Mother said she died of breast cancer
Henry Ford won’t or wouldn’t at the time take the poor, Mother was Nurse at Henry Ford Hospital. That is where she took her training.
To get to grandmas we would walk out of the house make a right go 1/2 block up to Van Dyke then go up van dyke I was little I will est, 4 or 5 blocks now probable farther , and we would have had to cross Vandyke because the apartment was on the left side of Vand dike from the way we went.
Vandyke looking south toward Mack Avenue
about the vicinity as described above
I can still to this day tell you what it looked liked LOL
The apartment when you went in had a small foyer, where you could hang your coats, when you stepped into the living room, her couch was to your right, the bath room also to your right, she had Murphy bed that had doors on the area, that she closed up in like french doors with glass and curtains, on the other side of the room she had a chair , and a Beautiful pillow she made in the chair , the kitchen was small and a half wall separated it from the living room.
She lived I think possibly second or third floor , I know we had to go up a stair way or two.
The building was made of brick.
She had to answer the door, but it seems like when we talked my sister Faye and I sat on her couch and she sat in the chair, what I remember best is Mom sent me over there to help her do something, and it was getting late , and Faye had not come to get me yet, so Gram fixed me some french toast, and said it looks like you will be staying the night, but Faye came before her bed time and got me. She was going to fix the couch for me to sleep on.
Grams was over to our house setting in the side yard with mom , her hair was short and curly like an Afro, and I ask Grams did you dye your hair , LOL and Mom said really quick , your grandmother don’t have to dye her hair , and in later years when I ask mom if she remembered that, she said gran never went gray, now I didn’t really believe that until you got the the pictures of her in the news paper and her hair was black then.
As I look back now, she was not a tall woman, she was heavy set with large breast, she had what I would call a round kinda flat face, dark eyes and a beautiful complexion for and old woman.
She wore a very light powder on her face and rouge, or what we call blush today
so she did wear some make up.
Canfield sure has changed since I lived there LOL, from what my brother told me they tore down the 4 family flat we lived in an ally separated us from a church that was next door , and across the street was a big field, that we played in.